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ThirtyTwo launched an outerwear collection last year during a very tough economic climate and an extremely difficult year for the snowboard market.
The good news is the brand completely sold out of inventory for both outerwear and boots last year without discounting, and retailers reported strong sell through, ThirtyTwo and Etnies Brand Director Mike Regan told me at SIA. Mike is in charge of sales, marketing and product for both brands.
This year, Mike believes the momentum could be even more positive due to several factors: retailers in general seem more optimistic, the number of appointments the brand had at SIA was up vs. last year, the prebooks from global reps were higher than expected, and the general tone of emails from retailers has improved, he said.
The brand also got good feedback on the lines from the 80 retailers it brings into its Boot Camp to test and learn about the products. This year Boot Camps were held in Big Sky Resort in Montana and in Europe.
For the 2010/2011 season, ThirtyTwo has segmented its outerwear line two ways: The Exposure Series, which has bigger logos and a more relaxed fit; and the Cascade Collection, a more tailored, streetwear, thrift store vibe.
Mike said ThirtyTwo sees a real opportunity in the market with Cascade.
“It’s really something others aren’t doing and fits into Sole Tech’s skate vibe,” he said.
Mike said ThirtyTwo is more focused on taking design ideas from riders than from trend forecasts.
I must say, everyone brand tells me that, so I pressed him for more details.
“From my experience, I’ve never seen a company take such direct feedback from riders and implement it into the line,” he said.
He pointed to an outerwear piece in the Cascade Collection that is modeled after a vest worn by team rider Joe Sexton that Joe found at a thrift shop. It’s a blue vest, with a bright orange lining with a patch on the outside, “definitely not a trend vest,” Mike said.
Mike believes because ThirtyTwo listens to riders, its long history selling snowboard boots, and because of Sole Tech’s skateboarding roots, the brand has a point of difference from competitors in outerwear.
“We felt we had learned from boot sales what type of look kids wanted,” he said. “That was a big advantage.”
On the boot front, ThirtyTwo is excited about its patent pending lacing system called Fast Track, which was introduced last year.
Mike said ThirtyTwo has made adjustments to it and perfected it and will really get behind it from a marketing standpoint.
(Right: A selling station in the ThirtyTwo booth at SIA.)
ThirtyTwo will still make boots using the Boa lacing system as well. In the winter 2010/2011 line, nine men’s boots have traditional laces, four have Fast Track and three use Boa.
ThirtyTwo also has made special collaboration boots for park crews at Mammoth, Bear Mountain and Brighton Resort. The arrangement allows ThirtyTwo to get more branding on the mountains and get feedback on the boots, Mike said.